A DESERVED PODIUM FINISH FOR KRIS MEEKE
Leaders for almost half of Rally Australia, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle finished third overall in their
DS 3 WRC. Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot made it to the end and scored a point for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team after being brought in as last-minute replacements for Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson, who had been forced to withdraw after an accident during the recce. The next round sees the World Rally Championship return to Corsica on 01-04 October.
Second overall on Sunday morning, just 0.3 seconds behind Sébastien Ogier, Kris Meeke was involved in a four-way battle at the front. With five stages to go, there were only 9.1 seconds between the top four.
The running order was changed for the short final leg. Kris Meeke continued to set a strong pace for the opening kilometres. Although he was unable to hold off Jari-Matti Latvala, the Northern Irishman defended his third place to finish ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen. After missing out on a podium at Rally Australia in 2014, Kris Meeke made sure of a top-three result this year.
Second on the road, Stéphane Lefebvre gained more experience in his first competitive outing on gravel in the DS 3 WRC. Having taken advantage of the first loop to check his pace notes, he was quicker on the second pass and managed to finish thirteenth overall, claiming one manufacturers’ championship point in the process.
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team now heads back to Europe for the eleventh round of the season. The DS 3 WRCs are set to contest the Tour de Corse for the first time at Rally France. The last four occasions the rally featured in the WRC, between 2005 and 2008, it was won by Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena in the Citroën Xsara WRC and Citroën C4 WRC.
Kris Meeke: “We achieved the first target which was to make it to the finish and be consistent. I would point out that we led the rally for almost two days. I think we did a very good job and we couldn’t really have expected to do much more on the final leg. We have to keep working hard.”
Stéphane Lefebvre: “I hadn’t expected to be competing here. We came to Australia only to take part in recce and we ended up lining up at the start. Nothing was easy, but we had to adapt quickly. I have gained a lot of experience here. My aim had been to gradually reduce the gap to the leading guys, but we have to do more work on our pace notes in order to improve.”
Marek Nawarecki (Deputy Team Principal): “We knew that Kris could be very competitive in Australia. He got the best out of the car, the conditions and his strategy. He was able to grab the lead in the early stages of the rally and defended his podium spot right to the end. Obviously, we’re sorry that Mads was injured during recce. We hope he will recover quickly, in time to take part in pre-event testing for the Tour de Corse. He was replaced here by Stéphane Lefebvre, for whom everything was new. He drove a DS 3 WRC on gravel for the first time. Given the conditions, his performance was significant. He gained experience and scored an important point for the manufacturers’ championship.”